Diet Brain Is Real and It Is Not Pretty

diet brainThis morning I went to grab a can of cat food from the pantry and found that I’d been putting lidded half-empty cans–among other items (a spatula, two forks)–back on the shelf instead of in the fridge. If mold were a salable commodity, I could finance my competition spray tan.

A few days ago, I left the oven on for hours after I’d finished baking my white fish.

Monday, I had to ask my coach to repeat every.single.step of every set because by the time I finished my reps, I’d forgotten what to do next.

Diet brain. It’s real and it sucks. Research has told me that this is a function of being in a low-carb but not extremely low-carb state. Something to do with the brain and glucose and blahblahblah…I forget the rest. Long story short, my brain is foggy most of the day, and I have to cope with that, since lying on the couch scrolling through Pinterest food posts does not constitute a beneficial career move.

People on ketogenic diets, which are very low carb, get through this brain-fog stage relatively quickly, once that clever organ figures out a low-glucose workaround. The brain wants to think and it will start to burn an alternative fuel to accomplish that. (Ketones or keloids or kittens or some “K” word. JK, it’s ketones. For sure.)

But I’m not ketogenic. I get carbs. In fact, I get plenty, but they’re in the form of brown rice and leafy green vegetables*. Which, as you know, are complex carbs, and therefore my foggy brain is having trouble unraveling the carb mysteries contained in them. Brains like simple carbs (or no carbs; ketones are delish too, in their book). I think this is mainly because brains aren’t made of muscle and therefore are lazy about physical things and just want to eat sugar all day.

How am I functioning at work and in other things, like driving and chopping vegetables and not fingers and remembering the names of my children? Pretty well. Because while I have zero short-term memory, my brain steps up to accomplish things that require actual focus. I maintain this delicate peace with 8 to 9 (or more) hours of sleep a night and a buttload of caffeine.

Also, I think my brain has gotten pretty good at delayed gratification and I’ve promised it a pizza and a couple of pints (one beer, one ice cream) the minute I step off stage.

In the meantime, if you need to tell me something you’d like me to remember 15 minutes later, please write it down for me.

*On the positive side, there is some evidence that suggests a diet high in leafy greens is brain protective. So that’s something. Oh, one other positive thing…you know how when you’re overtired or buzzed anything even slightly funny seems effing HILARIOUS? That happens.


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